At-home work hit new highs in 2020 with many businesses reporting more than 50 percent of their employees telecommuting during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even before that, the work-from-home movement had been slowly growing. The trend rapidly accelerated with lockdown orders in effect and nonessential workers encouraged to stay away. Now, some people split time between their house and office. Others are working full time from home, and aim to stay there.
Since you are the boss of your home office, why not fill it with things you love? That could be family photos (discouraged at some workplaces), pineapple bookends, whimsical or fine art, or outdoor accessories.
Enjoy a peek at a few home offices and start making plans for your own telecommuting updates.
Bring the Outdoors In
Both Robert and Mary High use their home office in Shinn Point, which is personalized with neutral-colored, outdoor-themed accessories. Fishing rods, mounted deer trophies, decoys and an antler chandelier reflect Robert’s hobbies.
Robert has been an outdoorsman since he was a small child, enjoying duck hunting, deer hunting, and offshore and inland fishing. A cowhide rug was purchased to complement the trophy room theme.
Robert owns a commercial real estate development business. Mary works part time in retail. They turned a rarely used sitting room into a comfortable home office with the help of Virginia Wyatt Designs. The Highs provided the desk, desk chair, armoire and trophy mounts. Wyatt completed the look with striped grasscloth wallcovering, neutral drapery panels, a sisal area rug layered with the cowhide rug, small-scale swivel chairs with indigo animal print lumbar pillows, the white antler chandelier and bronze sconces.
“We created a home workspace for the convenience of not having to run to the office,” Mary says.
When one of the Highs tested positive for COVID-19, they worked from home for the safety of fellow coworkers.
Mary advises having two monitors to aid with multitasking.
The Bright Side
Having professional organizer Melissa Capps minimize collections while retaining the colorful objects she loves makes Diana Boso’s Leland home office appear bright and welcoming.
The office space is primarily for Boso, who works from home for a CRO (contract research organization) that runs clinical trials for drug developers.
“I also let the kids use it for crafts,” she says. “My 7-year-old loves to do her homework at the little desk, always with music playing.”
Boso began working from home about three-and-a-half years ago. Having a dedicated space for her work helps with the mental and physical boundaries.
“Once I sign off, I’m back to mom-mode; I don’t think about work once the computer is off and the office door is shut,” she says. “When COVID-19 sent office-based employees home, I remember thinking how grateful I was to already have an office space at home and a routine as well. I’m sure it was very difficult for people to make that transition and be able to separate home life from work life.”
A babysitter who watches her children during office hours helps keep the work-home balance ebbing peacefully.
“Surprisingly, I had more distractions when I worked outside of the home,” she says. “Of course there are still interruptions by my four kids; however, I’ll take a kid wanting a hug any day rather than a cranky coworker wanting to vent about something.”
A Refuge from Distractions
Shana Ford uses her cozy office space while working in pharmaceutical development. Before the pandemic, she worked from her South Wilmington home two days per week.
Her office incorporates warm neutrals, including a bookcase made of wood reclaimed after a tsunami in Indonesia, purchased from the Ivy Cottage. The two-tone desk and side table are from Custom Home Furnishings. An LED ring light over the monitor provides even light to improve the quality of her video conferences.
“I love my workspace! I have my books that I read about leadership and culture right next to me so that when I need a brain break, I can engage my mind differently,” she says. “I also love the lighting in my office. It is a mix of soft white and pure daylight.”
A downside to working from home can be distractions from family and pets. Ford handles that by closing her office door when she needs to focus or has a meeting.
“Given that my husband and I both work from home full time now, we know that a closed door means no distractions,” she says. “We also often text one another if we need something and cannot interrupt. As for pets, my company is very open to pets in the room (or the occasional child stopping by if you have kids, I do not) while you are on video. It’s really a great way to get to know about the lives of those with whom you work to see a snippet of their personal lives, but you have to be able to keep those distractions at a low level or the impression might be that you aren’t being productive.”
Ford offers advice for anyone considering home officing.
“Number one is to ensure you have a designated space to work and that at quitting time, you leave the work to focus on family/personal time,” she says. “Some folks have a hard time disconnecting from work when work is right there. So, boundaries are important.”
Function for the Whole Family
A room in her Anchors Bend home that has been everything from a den, game room and guest room was converted and designed by Realtor Sarah Kober into an office with a little bit of fun and the whole family in mind.
“We wanted a comfortable but nice space for everyone to work,” she says. “My husband (David) and I collect artwork; we enjoy being surrounded by pieces that inspire us. The room is also used by both of our young children, so we needed simplicity, function and pops of color.”
The white built-in desk and cabinets were custom made by Risley Padula from Sarah’s designs. Art pieces were purchased through Art House Charlotte gallery and from local artist Brooke Eagle.
The entire family uses the space. Scheduling and discussion about daily commitments are necessary for two full-time professionals and two middle school students to coexist in the office.
“We try to talk through what we have for the day,” Sarah says. “This office is used by both of our children for schoolwork, Zoom calls, homework, etc. David will usually take conference calls in there because it is one of the few places in our house you can close a door and get away from the rest of us. I work in there as much as possible, sometimes even sharing the space with Ella or Mason. There might even be a coin toss to see who has to wear headphones.”
Working and schooling from home is new to the Kobers. David and Sarah still meet clients externally when essential, but they try to do as much from home as possible. And like many people, they have learned to use video calls for work and school needs.
“We are all working and learning from home, all with different schedules. We compete for private Zoom spaces, quiet places for calls, etc. It was definitely easier when the weather was warmer!” Sarah says.